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US-Africa: Biden announces Africa summit for mid-December

By The Africa Report

Posted on July 21, 2022 11:20

US President Joe Biden talks with DRC’s President Felix Tshiseked
US President Joe Biden talks with DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi in Rome, Italy October 30, 2021. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

US President Joe Biden has announced a gathering of African leaders in Washington from 13-15 December. On the agenda: security, climate change, and feeding the continent.

Biden, in a statement, said he hopes the meeting will demonstrate US commitment to Africa, “the importance of US-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities”.

As President Biden struggles to push his climate change agenda past his own congress, his administration has put $1.3bn into an aid package for Horn of Africa countries struggling with a severe drought.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, in a virtual address from Washington to a US-Africa business conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, echoed the announcement.

Many see the growing US engagement in the continent having a security edge – confronting growing Chinese influence – but a US official told Reuters that Washington is “not asking African partners to choose”.

A subterranean struggle to control mining assets continues in the DRC between the US and China, with minerals critical in the batteries powering the green industrial revolution.

Post-Trump era

The Biden administration has certainly displayed more engagement over recent months – not least in their attention to trying to fill appointments.

In Mike Hammer (former US Ambassador to the DRC), the State Department has tapped a blunt but gregarious diplomat to try to defuse a series of crises in East Africa, starting with the lingering conflict in Ethiopia.

The US has been continuing its outreach to the continent in the post-Trump era, where relations were focused more on visa bans than partnership.

The US and the African Union (AU) held their first high-level summit since the Covid-19 pandemic in March, with the conflicts in Ukraine and Ethiopia looming over the gathering.

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